Cabinet proposes law amendments to counter disinformation

Taipei, The Cabinet approved a series of draft amendment bills Thursday to increase the penalties or introduce punishment for spreading false information on topics related to natural disasters, agricultural product prices, infectious diseases, food safety and nuclear accidents.

The draft amendments are aimed at protecting the public and addressing the deficiencies in the law in terms of deterring disinformation efforts, Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-chen (???) said at a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting.

Under the draft amendment to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation, for example, a person who disseminates rumors or incorrect information about food safety issues that hurt public interests or other individuals may be subject to a maximum prison sentence of three years or a fine of up to NT$1 million (US$32,000).

The draft amendments to the Disaster Prevention and Protection Act and the Nuclear Emergency Response Act propose a maximum penalty of life imprisonment for spreading false information that causes deaths in any of those two areas.

An amendment to the Law on the Control of Communicable Diseases was also approved.

Lo said the Cabinet has been looking at the existing rules and regulations with a view to limiting disinformation and that other amendments will be made in the future. In addition, steps will be taken to help improve the public's assessment of news stories and to provide accurate information to counter fake news, he said.

As part of the Cabinet's efforts, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has proposed including media literacy in the K-12 education curriculum for 2019, Lo said.

The MOE will also launch support programs for teachers, public officials, and civic groups that provide training and resources to promote media literacy, he said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channels